Hippie Modernism: Cinema and Counterculture, 1964–1974

Exhibit - Multimedia | February 11 – May 13, 2017 every Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday & Saturday |  Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

 Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Cinema’s radical streak goes back to its earliest beginnings, but the period explored in Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia was an unusually fertile time for politically charged, aesthetically innovative filmmaking. Encompassing documentary, fiction, and experimental cinema—often in the course of a single feature—the films in this series intersected with and actively participated in emerging counterculture movements, taking the pulse of the social, political, and aesthetic upheavals that defined the Vietnam era.

While mass media and commercial movies frequently portrayed the counterculture as naive and ineffectual or violent and dangerous—a distinction often drawn along class and color lines—some filmmakers offered alternative perspectives. For In the Year of the Pig, Emile de Antonio used archival film and news footage to construct a cinematic argument against US participation in the war in Vietnam. Haskell Wexler’s Medium Cool, shot in the midst of violent protests surrounding the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and William Greaves’s genre-defying Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take One exemplified new narrative forms propelled by cinema verité, documentary film, and television news. European auteurs such as Michelangelo Antonioni, Jean-Luc Godard, William Klein, and Agnès Varda, swept up in the zeitgeist, contributed their own depictions of the era. Blaxspoitation combined with Afro-Futurism in John Coney’s Space is the Place starring the visionary composer Sun Ra. In the Bay Area, Canyon Cinema launched a generation of experimental filmmakers. From intricate avant-garde animations to critical portraits of pop stars and freedom fighters, this series is replete with images that remain as vital and compelling today as they were some fifty years ago.

 Free for BAMPFA members, UC Berkeley students, faculty, staff, retirees; 18 & under + guardian | $10 Non-UC Berkeley students, 65+, disabled persons | $12 General admission